Harry Potter in Chinese, Japanese & Vietnamese Translation
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Chapter Titles in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese


Chapter 14: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback


(For the romanisation of Chinese and Japanese, see Transliteration. To understand the writing systems of CJV, see Writing Systems. For word order notes, see Word Order)

Where a Vietnamese word has been borrowed from Chinese, the original Chinese characters are shown in parentheses.


Chinese (Mainland) 挪威脊背龙——诺伯
Nuówēi jǐbèi lóng -- Nuòbó
挪威 Nuówēi = 'Norway'.
脊背 jǐbèi = 'ridge-back'.
lóng = 'dragon'.
诺伯 Nuòbó = 'Norbert'.
Norbert the Norwegian ridgebacked dragon
Chinese (Taiwan) 挪威脊背龍蘿蔔
Nuówēi jǐbèi lóng Luóbo
挪威 Nuówēi = 'Norway'.
脊背 jǐbèi = 'ridge-back'.
lóng = 'dragon'.
蘿蔔 Luóbo = 'radish'.
Radish (Norbert) the Norwegian ridgebacked dragon
Japanese ノルウェー・ドラゴンのノーバート
Noruwei doragon no Nōbāto
ノルウェー Noruwei = 'Norway'.
ドラゴン doragon = 'dragon' (English).
no = connecting particle
ノーバート Nōbāto = 'Norbert'.
Norbert the Norwegian dragon
Vietnamese Trứng rồng đen trứng = 'egg'.
rồng = 'dragon'.
đen= 'black'.
The black dragon's egg

Dragons: The Oriental dragon is a magnificent mythical creature of good omen associated with the water. It is nothing like the evil, fire-breathing dragon of the West. Unfortunately, the word 'dragon' is now conventionally used to describe both the Oriental and Occidental dragons. The Vietnamese translator reportedly baulked at using the word rồng, but eventually compromised by including a note to say that the Western dragon was different from the Vietnamese one (this note can be found at the back of issue no. 6 of the Vietnamese version).

Only the Japanese translator has come up with a solution. Instead of using the Japanese word for 'dragon', which is ryū, she uses the word ドラゴン doragon, from the English word 'dragon'. Although ドラゴン doragon can also be used for Oriental dragons (Bruce Lee's 'Enter the Dragon' is known in Japanese as 燃えろドラゴン! Moero doragon! 'Burn Dragon!'), this device nevertheless helps to set Harry Potter's dragons apart from the traditional Oriental kind. This solution is less appropriate for Chinese because the Chinese are not as comfortable borrowing words from English. (For more information on Oriental dragons, including links to many related sites, try The Chinese Dragon and other mythical dragons of the East, Illiana the Golden Dragon, Tysharina's Lair, Types of Dragons, Dragons in Ancient China, Dragons of China, and The Vietnamese Dragon. )

Norbert: The Taiwanese version gives Norbert the rather humorous name of 蘿蔔 Luóbo, meaning 'Radish'. Luóbo is more likely to be accepted by South Chinese and Taiwanese speakers as people from many of these areas have a habit of mixing up their n's and l's.

The Mainland version renders Norbert's name as 诺伯 Nuòbó, using the correct pronunciation of 'n'. It's clear, however, that the Mainland translator is copying the Taiwanese version because a proper transliteration according to Mainland standards would reflect the final 't' sound, e.g. 诺伯特 Nuòbótè. In effect, the Mainland translator has partially corrected the pronunciation but completely lost the humour.

The Japanese Noruwei doragon no Nōbāto is a similar construction to the familiar 熊のプーさん Kuma no Pū-san ('Pooh Bear').

(A summary of this chapter can be found at Harry Potter Facts. Detailed notes on the chapter can be found at Harry Potter Lexicon)

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